Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Media Has Become Filled With Operatives From Intelligence Agencies

article image

In the last few years, the national security state has been expanding its power in alarming ways. Intelligence officials have been given unprecedented power in the Trump administration, which has carried out record numbers of CIA drone assassinationsDozens of former military and intelligence officers ran for office as Democrats in the 2018 midterms, and eleven of them have won House seats. And the hysteria around Russiagate has caused the Democratic Party to aggressively elevate the authority of America’s intelligence agencies, despite the catastrophic war in Iraq that these agencies recently lied us into.

In this environment, it’s seemed normal for numerous intelligence operatives to have recently gained major roles in our political discourse.
The trend I’m about to describe seems to have started with the punditry career of MSNBC’s Malcolm Nance, a formal naval intelligence officer. While Nance’s national security background has made him an insightful source on some issues, he’s used this reputation of reliability to push toxic propaganda narratives-all of which reflect the agenda of the military/intelligence complex that he speaks on behalf of.
For example, in an August 2016 segment, Nance told MSNBC viewers that “Jill Stein has a show on Russia Today.” Despite the fact that Stein has never had a show on RT, Nance has still not addressed this false statement he made. And the incident reflects on how Nance has portrayed similar issues. Nance has baselessly accusedthe journalist Glenn Greenwald of being “an agent of Trump and Moscow,” tweeted blatant lies about WikiLeaks to support his claim that WikiLeaks has released doctored emails, and consistently reported even the most factually flimsy “Russian meddling” claims as fact.
Nance’s alarming distortions of the truth should have given networks indication that putting more intelligence figures into the media wouldn’t be good for
journalism. But since the major news outlets have been in partnership with the CIA for decades, these outlets haven’t hesitated to put many additional intel officials into punditry positions.
Last year, CNN hired former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, despite Clapper’s record of committing perjury by lying to congress and his recent history of xenophobic and bigoted statements about the Russian people. Other
intelligence insiders now working for CNN are Michael Hayden, John Kirby, Lisa Monaco, and Spider Marks.
Also, this year MSNBC/NBC hired John Brennan, the CIA chief who helped createthe political tool of Russiagate and who orchestrated CIA spying of congress. NBC has also hired former CIA and DoD Chief of Staff Jeremy Bash as the network’s national security analyst, along with CIA-tied reporter Ken Dilanian.

Like Nance, these figures have presented information with clear bias towards government narratives. Brennan and Clapper have been vocal promoters of claims that Russia poses a threat to the U.S., however inaccurate those claims are. This goes along with the recent journalistic behavior of CNN, MSNBC, NBC, and other mainstream media outlets, whose coverage of the intelligence agencies’ claims about Russia mirrors how they treated the claims about WMDs in Iraq. This new prevalence of actual intelligence operatives within the media shows us that the U.S.’ war propaganda machine has only gotten more brazen since 2003.
This trend has also applied to the world of Twitter punditry, like when a Government Communications Headquarters agent recently tweeted the completely false claim that Edward Snowden had promoted bitcoin. The bizarre tweet portrayed Snowden’s statement about bitcoin as dishonest, and it was a clear attempt to hurt Snowden’s reputation.
Glenn Greenwald responded to the incident by assessing on Twitter: “One of the harms of the Trump era is the infiltration of security state officials like this - an ex-GCHQ agent - into ‘news analysis’ as popular commentators. They are trained, professional liars. They lie because it's what they were taught to do...But because security state agencies re-branded themselves as [the] #Resistance to Trump, they somehow became viewed as oracles of *truth* and wisdom. Our discourse is completely infected by their trained propaganda.”
Despite these attempts to draw people into state propaganda through partisan marketing campaigns, trust in the mass media-and in the ruling institutions which it serves-is now overall at an all time low. This means that if we keep using our unprecedented social networking powers to counter the establishment propaganda narratives, the ruling elites will ultimately lose their control over what the population believes.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The DOJ Is Prosecuting Assange For Practicing Journalism, Not For “Working With Russia”

article image

When I’ve talked in online threads about the recent warnings from numerous journalists, lawyers, and constitutional experts that prosecuting Julian Assange would set a dangerous precedent for the rights of whistleblowers, Assange’s opponents have usually responded by claiming that the U.S. isn’t trying to prosecute him for whistleblowing. Assange is a criminal, they say, because he worked with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

Putting aside the continued lack of evidence that Assange got the DNC emails from Russia, or that Russia ever hacked into the DNC at all, information has come out which tells us that the government is indeed trying to convict Assange for nothing more than practicing journalism. After the revelation of a DOJ indictment being prepared against Assange, Elizabeth Lea Vos wrote this week in her piece Assange Prosecution Will Focus On Chelsea Manning Era Releases, Not DNC Emails:
Recent reports have indicated that formerly secret charges pending against Julian Assange will focus on material relating to Chelsea Manning and the earliest releases published by WikiLeaks. Alternatively, on WikiLeaks’ Vault7 releases in March 2017 or on the help he and his organisation gave to Edward Snowden to get the NSA whistleblower to safe asylum.
This latest news directly counters allegations published by Russiagate hysterics, who suggested the charges would relate to WikiLeaks’ 2016 publications of the DNC and John Podesta emails.
It also negates any doubt that the prosecution of Assange would mean the destruction of a free press. If Assange is prosecuted under this charge of publishing classified information, it would totally criminalize those who leak government secrets. Among the many statements from press freedom organizations that condemn the attempts to prosecute Assange under this pretense, the Committee to Protect Journalists recently stated: “we would be concerned by a prosecution that construes publishing government documents as a crime. This would set a dangerous precedent that could harm all journalists, whether inside or outside the United States.”
But none of this matters to the Trump administration’s DOJ, nor to the mainstream Democrats who support the effort to prosecute Assange. Assange is now enemy #1 of the political and media establishments, because he and WikiLeaks have vastly hurt the power of the U.S./NATO empire.
They’ve shown how the Iraq and Afghanistan wars-which were launched by both parties-involved numerous war crimes by the U.S. They’ve published Obama administration emails which show how that the U.S. has deliberately tried to destabilize Syria. They’ve revealed that Obama’s cabinet was directly put together by a Wall Street insider. They’ve indisputably confirmed that Saudi Arabia arms ISIS. They’ve revealed how the DNC rigged the primary against Bernie Sanders, and how the DNC and the Clinton campaign colludedwith numerous media outlets as part of this effort. They’ve uncovered the CIA’s Orwellian surveillance practice of infiltrating household appliances. So the centers of power are doing all they can to persecute Assange, and to discredit any future things that WikiLeaks reveals.
By threatening to prosecute Assange, the U.S. and U.K. governments have forced him to stay in the Ecuadorian embassy for eight years, putting him through so far 2913 days of house arrest that have severely damaged his health. To get Assange to out of the embassy, the U.S. and Ecuador have imposed increasingly degrading and miserable conditions onto Assange with the hope that he’ll agree to leave.
To justify this undeniable persecution of Assange, the U.S. government and the Western media have spread lies about Assange and WikiLeaks. Despite the fact that WikiLeaks has never had to retract a single document in its twelve years of publishing, many pundits have spread rumors about WikiLeaks’ emails being “doctored.” Even though the “Russia DNC hack” claim has been thoroughly debunked, the standard media narrative continues to be that WikiLeaks has worked with Russia. The baseless media claim that WikiLeaks works for Trump has also been a powerful propaganda tool for getting well-intentioned liberals to turn against Assange.
And because defending ruling class narratives is the best way for a modern political commentator to get their career advanced, the DOJ’s focus on the Manning leaks no doubt won’t stop the mainstream media from continuing to attack Assange. “We can assume that in the coming days and months, establishment hacks will pivot and attack Assange just as loudly and abhorrently as they always have,” Vos predicts in her article. “Few of them will bother to remind their readers that the campaign emails of a political party are not US Government documents, are not classified Secret or Top Secret, and are therefore not going to be the subject of a federal prosecution in the Alexandria Division of the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA), where the jury pool is selected from a population with the highest concentration of US intelligence and defence industry employees in the United States.”
In short, Assange’s persecution isn’t going to get any pushback from the media figures who’ve aligned themselves with the circles of power. But there are still many human rights organizations, civil liberties groups, academics, activists, and dissident journalists who’ve shown support for Assange. And if we redouble our efforts to free Assange, we might be able to reverse the situation.

Monday, November 26, 2018

What Ordinary People Can Do To Overthrow The Corporate Oligarchy

article image

We can look to China’s surveillance system to know the likely endgame of the oppression machine that’s taking over our lives. After creating a vast network of public spy cameras and online activity tracking, China is setting up a “citizen credit” score which ranks every person’s perceived loyalty to the government. And as one Atlantic article about China’s surveillance state says, “what emerges in China will not stay in China. Its repressive technologies have a pattern of diffusing to other authoritarian regimes around the world.”

I’m mentioning these facts because they deeply motivate me to rebel against corporate capitalism, imperialism, and the police state. The implications of this surveillance system are horrifying; its meticulous tracking of people’s political expressions and social behaviors deprives people of their autonomy in a way that’s unprecedented in the history of state control. And since the United States fits the criteria for an authoritarian society with an already established surveillance state, people in my country should especially worry that something like it will arise one day in our own lives.
But it’s not too late to rebel. Here are some concrete actions that we can take to bring society further away from this nightmarish totalitarian vision.
Engage in mass protests and civil disobedience
The recent events in France should give people around the world hope for a mass uprising. Protesters have been mobilizing against France’s oppressive fuel tax, while massive rail strikes have broken out. This has followed the vast European worker strikes and worldwide teacher strikes that have also happened this year. And the Macron government’s recent responses of protest bans and violent police crackdowns show that the capitalist class is alarmed by these developments.
These events show that to bring change, we’ll need to carry out persistent and sustained acts of civil disobedience. This means continuing our protest efforts no matter how much the state tries to suppress them. As Chris Hedges warned a year ago about how an American mass uprising will be dealt with:
Trump and his allies, in a desperate bid to cling to power, will openly stoke hate crimes and violence against Muslims, undocumented workers, African-Americans, progressives, intellectuals, feminists and dissidents. He and his allies on the “alt-right” and the Christian right will move to silence all organs of dissent, including corporate media outlets fighting to restore the patina of civility that is the window dressing to corporate pillage. They will harness the power of the nation’s substantial internal security apparatus to crush public protests and to jail opponents, even those who are part of the faux resistance.
We should see these threats from the government as a challenge to never back down. The Poor People’s Campaign is currently creating protests against corporate capitalism, and Extinction Rebellion’s participators are now getting arrested for the sake of climate action. Let’s support these and other civil disobedience groups for the fight ahead.
Help fight the information war
Independent journalists present a serious threat to the power of the corporate media, and they can therefore mobilize people towards revolt. This is what I’ve concluded after seeing alt media outlets be heavily censored, aggressively marginalized, and blacklisted as foreign agents throughout the last few years.
These attacks tell us that the ruling class cares a lot about the information we’re exposed to. The constant warnings about “fake news” and “Russian propaganda” are instructions for people not to stray away from the corporate media echo chamber. And incidents like last month’s mass purging of legitimate political Facebook pages are direct moves towards the totalitarian shutdown of dissenting voices.
The solution is to put more effort into creating, spreading around, and financially supporting these targeted news outlets. In response to the onslaught of censorship, I’ve developed a daily routine of visiting some of the top alt news sites-namely TruthDig, Truthout, Counterpunch, Consortiumnews, The Anti-Media, MintPressnews, and the World Socialist Website, which have all recently had their viewership cut down by online censorship. These outlets, along with journalists like Caitlin Johnstone, Jimmy Dore, and Chris Hedges, continue to create content that the political establishment wants removed from our discourse.
In short, we need truth-tellers right now more than ever. And if one is willing to become one of the creators of independent media, it’s an opportunity to explore your creativity while doing good for the world.
Build the institutions for revolt
To overthrow corporate power, we need to vastly expand the anti-war, socialist, and environmental organizations. To quote Hedges again: “All of the movements that opened up the democratic space in America—the abolitionists, the suffragists, the labor movement, the communists, the socialists, the anarchists and the civil rights movement—developed a critical mass and militancy that forced the centers of power to respond.”
Some of the organizations that I suggest joining for this project are World Beyond War, the Freedom Socialist Party, the Socialist Equality Party, and the Green Party. The bigger these groups get, the weaker the corporate institutions will become. And these are just a few of them; there are countless similar organizations, including local organizing groups that most people can find in their areas with a Google search.
After half a century of widening inequality and attacks against the rights of poor and working people, the populations throughout Europe, North America, and other regions have become a social tinderbox. A vast upheaval is getting ready to happen, and we’re already in its early stages. As the World Socialist Website’s David North assessed this year, we are “in a period of growing political radicalization among young people, among workers, [where] they start to look for oppositional information, they become interested in socialism, revolution, terms like ‘equality.’”
If we can harness this emerging unrest, and nonviolently turn it towards an anti-war, pro-socialist direction, the foundations of society will be shaken. But we’ve got to act now.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Even If Assange Is Prosecuted, The Secrets He’s Revealed Will Continue To Haunt The Ruling Class

article image
The government is dangerously close to prosecuting Julian Assange, and to destroying press freedom in the process. As the Trump administration has been revealed to have prepared undisclosed charges against Assange, Ecuador’s ex-president Rafael Correa recently said he expects Ecuador to “turn over Assange to the U.S. government.” This would result in an unprecedented and unconstitutional attack on whistleblowers, with the Trump administration gaining the precedent to arrest any leaker it wants after they’ve gone after Assange.

But even if the efforts to free Assange fail, we should know that nothing will ever undo the damage that Assange and WikiLeaks have done to the power of the ruling class. No amount of media attacks against WikiLeaks, police state crackdowns against whistleblowers, or corporate censorship against the alternative media can make people forget about the scandals WikiLeaks has exposed.
Here’s a review of some of the most explosive secrets that WikiLeaks has brought to the public’s attention.
U.S. troops and military contractors committed numerous war crimes in Iraq, and Bush’s White House carried out even more torture than we’d previously thought
According to the Iraq War Logs, which were published by WikiLeaks in October 2010, U.S. troops killed and tortured civilians and then tried to cover up their war crimes. In an August July 2007 airstrike, two Reuters journalists were killed, along with several men who were only suspected to be insurgents. The official reports classified all of them as “enemy killed in action.”
States The Guardian about what the logs reveal, U.S. authorities also “failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers.” Along with many other abuses and coverups by the military, the logs revealed that the U.S. military contractor Blackwater committed acts of terrorism; The New York Times has said that in one instance, “after the IED strike a witness reports the Blackwater employees fired indiscriminately at the scene.”

As the logs also tell us, the Bush administration continued to torture after the Abu Ghraib revelations. Post-Abu Ghraib, say the logs, U.S. troops confiscated a hand cranked generator with wire clamps from a Baghdad police station after a detainee reported having been tortured at the station.
The revealing of these war crimes is ironic. Because while Democrats and the mainstream media are attacking Assange-the man who exposed the crimes-they’re now rehabilitating the public image of George W. Bush, the man who committed the crimes.
Saudi Arabia has been funding ISIS
A 2014 email from Hillary Clinton, as revealed in WikiLeaks’ Podesta emails dump, says that:
We need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.
In 2013, the Podesta emails also reveal, Clinton privately acknowledged that “the Saudis have exported more extreme ideology than any other place on earth over the course of the last 30 years.”
How Clinton and the United States’ other leaders have responded to Saudi Arabia’s support for terror shows how the powerful self-rationalize their actions. While Clinton said that she didn’t approve of the Saudis’ financing terrorism, the Obama administration never took further action than the mentioned efforts to “bring pressure.” As the U.S. has done since the Saudis became a business asset in 1933, Clinton and Obama continued their political and military support for Saudi Arabia all throughout this known terrorism sponsorship program. And Trump, of course, has since only made U.S./Saudi relations closer.
The Obama administration shipped arms to Islamist terrorists to help achieve regime change in Syria
As the Podesta emails also show, the Obama administration was undeniably complicit in the arming of terrorist groups in Syria. One email, written by John Podesta and sent to Clinton on August 19, 2014, reads:
We should return to plans to provide the FSA [i.e., the Free Syrian Army], or some group of moderate forces, with equipment that will allow them to deal with a weakened ISIL, and stepped up operations against the Syrian regime.
But these figures knew that the weapons they’d been giving to the “moderates” had ended up in the possession of terrorists, and they were evidently willing to let that potentially happen again by revamping their support for the rebel forces. Obama official Ben Rhodes admitted in an interview with The Intercept this year that the U.S. has recently been arming jihadist groups, and the email above indicates that Clinton was planning to continue this policy of de facto terrorism sponsorship after she became president.
A 2012 email, written by an anonymous Clinton aide and also included in WikiLeaks’ Clinton archive, shows just what this plan looked like from the start:
Washington should start by expressing its willingness to work with regional allies like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to organize, train and arm Syrian rebel forces. The announcement of such a decision would, by itself, likely cause substantial defections from the Syrian military. Then, using territory in Turkey
 and possibly Jordan, US diplomats and Pentagon officials can start strengthening the opposition… Arming the Syrian rebels and using Western air power to ground Syrian helicopters and airplanes is a low-cost high payoff approach.
This was in direct opposition to the administration’s public claim that its goals for Syria were peaceful.
The CIA has been hacking into appliances to spy on-and potentially assassinate-its political targets
Reads one part of WikiLeaks’ press release which summarizes the findings from last year’s Vault 7 CIA document leak:
The increasing sophistication of surveillance techniques has drawn comparisons with George Orwell's 1984, but "Weeping Angel", developed by the CIA's Embedded Devices Branch (EDB), which infests smart TVs, transforming them into covert microphones, is surely its most emblematic realization.

The attack against Samsung smart TVs was developed in cooperation with the
 United Kingdom's MI5/BTSS. After infestation, Weeping Angel places the target TV in a 'Fake-Off' mode, so that the owner falsely believes the TV is off when it is on. In 'Fake-Off' mode the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server.
Even more alarming is the next part of the press release, which states that the CIA has been trying to use this technology to kill people remotely: “As of October 2014 the CIA was also looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks. The purpose of such control is not specified, but it would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations.”
Given how the CIA’s assassination program is unaccountable to congress and has killed countless people without due process, this prospect is terrifying. As is the fact that the CIA can use an array of appliances to directly spy on its targets, since the CIA has been known to label innocent political dissidents as criminal suspects. The Vault 7 revelations show just how vast the police and surveillance state has grown.
Russia has its own version of this surveillance state, making for an Orwellian global political order
Last year’s Russia Spy Files dump both disproves that WikiLeaks has ties to the Russian government, and shows the political nightmare that’s appeared throughout most of the world. This nightmare is where people go through their lives while under the watch of a tyrannical state.
One of the three branches of Russia’s surveillance infrastructure, called Traffic Data Mart, has what WikiLeaks describes as “a system that records and monitors IP traffic for all mobile devices registered with the operator.” The second Branch, says WikiLeaks, is called the Data Retention System, and it’s “a mandatory component for operators by law; it stores all communication (meta-)data locally for three years.” The third branch, called Service, is supposedly for making legal communication interceptions that are based in a court order. But, as WikiLeaks points out, Russia’s laws “make literally no distinction between Lawful Interception and mass surveillance by state intelligence authorities without court orders.”
This spying network, collectively called PETER-SERVICE, was designed directly in accordance to the U.S.’ surveillance system. As WikiLeaks says, a group of Russian elites were at one point secretly shown a presentation about the program which portrayed the NSA as a model. WikiLeaks states about the content of this now revealed presentation: “Drawing specifically on the NSA Prism program, the [PETER-SERVICE] presentation offers law enforcement, intelligence and other interested parties, to join an alliance in order to establish equivalent data-mining operations in Russia.”
These two surveillance states make for a partial fulfillment of the global political order described in George Orwell’s 1984. In Orwell’s view, the strongest version of totalitarianism would be a situation where the world is broken up into three super-states, with all of them having the same totalitarian system while constantly being in unwinnable wars with either of the other two nations.
This isn’t exactly our own situation. But the similarities between Russia and the U.S./NATO empire are eerily similar to that vision. Both of these places are dominated by mass surveillance and corporate control, with an exploited underclass struggling to free itself worldwide. This fact explains the
absurdity of the West’s recent anti-Russia campaign, which tells us to see Russia
as incurably hostile and even evil.
As one part of 1984 describes its fictional world’s similar situation:
The citizen of Oceania is not allowed to know anything of the tenets of the other two philosophies, but he is taught to execrate them as barbarous outrages upon morality and common sense. Actually the three philosophies are barely distinguishable, and the social systems which they support are not distinguishable at all. Everywhere there is the same pyramidal structure, the same worship of semi-divine leader, the same economy existing by and for continuous warfare.
Millions around the world are grateful to Julian Assange for helping expose this worldwide system of hypocrisy and lies. And WikiLeaks is going to keep putting out revelations about this system for the foreseeable future.

Monday, November 19, 2018

In A Paradigm Of Total War, Totalitarianism Becomes A Looming Threat

article image

The mass media doesn’t want the public to be aware of this right now, but our government is openly preparing for a war of unprecedentedly tragic proportions. Last week, a bipartisan panel appointed by congress declared that it was time to support the Pentagon’s plans for a “great-power” war with Russia and/or China. The report predicted that American civilians will be attacked in this war, that it will include “rapid nuclear escalation,” and that it will likely start within the next four years.

Already, we’ve effectively entered into a cold war between the major world powers. Last month, Trump pulled out of a landmark U.S.-Russia nuclear treaty, which has enabled a new atomic arms race that creates an unprecedented threat of nuclear war. NATO troops have been assembled near Russia’s borders. The Pentagon has long been preparing for a war with Russia and China, and those countries are making similar plans.

How should Americans view these events, and how should we respond to them? Here’s where people need to be careful about which information they’re being exposed to when it involves the threat of war. Because during wartime, governments always try use people’s confusion and fear to create support for repressive measures. And I believe this is what our government officials and media outlets are doing right now.

As we navigate the current political and news landscape in this time of crisis, here are some important facts to remember in order to avoid being deceived by the people in power.

America’s intelligence agencies and government officials have consistently lied to manufacture support for war

World War II is the last instance of American military involvement that was (arguably) justified. All U.S. wars since then have been started through lies. When you add these illegal military interventions to the acts of political sabotage, economic warfare, and coups that the CIA has carried out, the U.S. has interferedwith the governments of 81 countries in the last 73 years.

The lies behind these interventions have included the false charge that the North Vietnamese fired first in the Vietnam War, the Iraq WMD hoax, the false incubator testimony that was used to start the Persian Gulf War, and the false claim that Gaddafi ordered mass rapes. So when the very same authorities which made these claims are saying that Assad is gassing his people, claiming that Putin is “hacking” our elections, and pushing other narratives that are being used to justify foreign intervention, shouldn’t we at least take a look at potential counter-evidence?

Everyone should have asked themselves this as soon as we started hearing the U.S.’ recent charges against these governments. But as always happens during a campaign to manufacture war, most people have been persuaded to accept the government’s claims as fact.

And the contradictions in the current war narrative have developed in the same way they did during the post-invasion exposing of the Iraq WMD hoax. When four U.S. intelligence agencies initially made the claim that Russia had worked with WikiLeaks to publish Democratic Party emails, their evidence was shoddy. The case for Russia being behind the DNC leak has since gotten weaker, with the NSA still refusing to produce evidence of Russia’s role despite the NSA having revealed its sources and methods during the Sony hack. The claim further fell apart last summer, when Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity ran tests showing that the DNC’s software didn’t appear to be compatible with any overseas hack.

Other glaring problems have appeared in the claim that Russia hacked voter registrations, that Russia poisoned the Skripals, and that Russia swung the election through social media. The same is true for the chemical attacks that Assad has supposedly committed, which all evidence now says are the work of Syria’s chemical weapon-armed rebel terrorist factions.

The war propaganda narratives-particularly the one which presents Russia is a threat-have been sustained through endless bombardments of baseless but confidently repeated claims. This is how authoritarian regimes have imposed their worldviews on populations throughout history. And it applies to Joost A.M. Meerloo’s assessment of propaganda, as quoted from his book The Rape of the Mind: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing:

Logic can be met with logic, while illogic cannot—it confuses those who think straight. The Big Lie and monotonously repeated nonsense have more emotional appeal in a cold war than logic and reason. While the enemy is still searching for a reasonable counter-argument to the first lie, the totalitarians can assault him with another.

Behind this wall of deception and distractions, satisfactory profits are being made for the military-industrial corporate complex. In 2016, the director of the Arms & Security Project at the Center for International Policy William Hartung said that as U.S./Russia tensions escalated, weapons companies would be “knocking at the door, looking to sell everything from fighter planes to missile defense systems...Russian saber-rattling has additional benefits for weapons makers because it has become a standard part of the argument for higher Pentagon spending.”

During wartime, dissenters are treated as enemies

These undeniable contradictions in the story that our government is telling us about the new cold war aren’t the only reason to feel uneasy. Not only are our leaders lying to us, but they’re telling us to turn against anyone who doesn’t accept their lies.

And this war on dissent has been carried out the same way that persecution campaigns have historically unfolded, with the authorities targeting the disfavored people step-by-step. As the West’s anti-Russia campaign was reignited during Russia’s supposed invasion of Crimea, pro-war politicians and pundits started to attack their opponents as agents of the Kremlin. One example is when John McCain responded to Abby Martin’s exposing his massive war crimes by tweeting in 2015: “Vladimir continues his attacks on me - I am honored.”

Red-baiting from neoconservatives like McCain continued throughout the 2016 election, with the Clinton campaign and its supporters having tried to paint Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein, and Donald Trump as Russian agents without evidence. One of the clearest attempts at this McCarthyism came from MSNBC’s Malcolm Nance, who falsely claimed in August 2016 that “Jill Stein has a show on Russia Today.” Even worse was when The Washington Post published a blatantly inaccurate list from the shady outlet PropOrNot, which claimed that, TruthDig, and other top alternative media sites were “Russian propaganda.”

This attack strategy was very useful, since it also let the political and media establishments baselessly paint their arch-nemesis Julian Assange as a Russian operative. But quickly, the anti-Russia rhetoric went from a mere propaganda campaign to a tool for censoring voices of dissent.

Shortly after The Washington Post legitimized PropOrNot’s lies in November 2016, a bill was introduced which would create a State Department-run authority called the Global Engagement Center. This agency has since worked as an unaccountable and shadowy propaganda factory for the U.S. government. And its mission of state control over information was codified under December 2016’s Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act, which would advance “fact-based narratives” whose content was then to be decided by the Trump administration.

And it’s gotten much worse since then. U.S. officials haven’t said whether the Global Engagement Center is targeting Americans, making its already dubious pretense of “fighting foreign propaganda” a potential cover for spreading propaganda in the homeland. The Justice Department’s move last year to force RT to register as a foreign agent-even as other foreign outlets like the BBC haven’t been met with this requirement-also represents the state’s recent war against alternative information.

Meanwhile, amid pressure from the intelligence agencies for online companies to censor disfavored content, corporate censorship has reached unprecedented levels. Google has changed its algorithms in ways that have massively brought down the viewership of alternative media sites. Twitter has been shadow banning independent journalists and unsubscribing their followers. YouTube has been demonetizing these same journalists. Facebook has been working-often directlywith the FBI-to censor content that’s deemed to be “Russian propaganda.” Censorship like this has always been going on, since large companies have a natural incentive to work with and appease the interests of the government. But it’s gotten much worse in the last two years.

The most alarming recent trend has been the mass social media purges of disfavored content. In August, Facebook took down the pages of Telesur and Venezuela Analysis. Then in September, Facebook censored a Think Progress article. This was followed by a purge last month of 800 Facebook pages, including The Free Thought Project and Police the Police.

The precedent for this was set in early August of this year, when social media companies banned the easy censorship target Alex Jones. The dangerous consequences of targeting Jones were made apparent when Senator Chris Murphy promised that “Infowars is the tip of a giant iceberg of hate and lies that uses sites like Facebook and YouTube to tear our nation apart. These companies must do more than take down one website. The survival of our democracy depends on it.”

Throughout these attacks on the free press, Facebook has worked with government-funded organizations like the Atlantic Council, which has been advising Facebook on which sites to target. This is not a case of a private company making decisions about who to feature on their platform. This is the same as state censorship, because the corporations are working with the state. Mark Weisbrot, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, agreed with this assessment when he tweeted in September: “Wow, this is pretty Orwellian: Facebook chooses 2 US-government-funded organizations who specialize in overseas propaganda and sometimes regime change to fight ‘malicious propaganda.’”

Total war means totalitarian control

I feel it’s important for me to include so many details about these recent events, because authoritarianism takes hold through the little changes that people don’t notice until it’s too late. In addition to these censorship measures, the military/intelligence complex has been recently expanding its powers to surveil and police the population, and to engage in warfare around the globe.

In an appropriate parallel to the fact that generals usually take control in military dictatorships, generals and intelligence officials have been given unprecedented power in the last two years. President Trump, who certainly isn’t competent enough to run law enforcement or foreign policy, has let his generals and intelligence officers make most of the executive branch’s decisions about these issues.

The result has been an expansion of Obama’s infamous military campaigns, with the drone kill rates under Trump being 80 times greater than they were under Bush, Trump’s military dropping bombs on an average of every 12 minutes, and the U.S. having bombed eight countries in the last two years (now including Niger).

Yet even as the annual “defense” budget for these offensive wars has been increased to $717 billion under Trump, the Pentagon and the corporate media continue to implicitly push for greater military spending by claiming that America would lose a war with Russia and China. What these statements about America’s supposedly weak military leave out is that America would only lose an offensive war with these countries. These countries are not going to attack without provocation, and they’re mainly building up their defenses in response to U.S. belligerence.

Pro-war politicians, including the Democrats who’ve voted for the military budget increases, are using this supposed Russian and Chinese “saber-rattling” to push for more militarization and more aggression. Trump’s Syria strikes have been the resultof pressures from Russiagate proponents to “get tough on Putin.” When Trump approved an arms deal to Ukraine last year-something so dangerous that even Obama backed down from doing the same-it was done after neoconservatives like Adam Schiff used the “Russia collusion” charge to pressure Trump into carrying out this act of aggression against Russia.

Meanwhile, as America’s seventeen year era of war continues, the security state is becoming more oppressive. The NSA collected more than 534 million phone records throughout last year, which is more than three times the amount that was collected in 2016. The Trump administration has continued Obama’s war on whistleblowers by prosecuting Reality Winner and James Wolfe. Last year the Center of Development for Security Excellence effectively redefined the word “whistleblowing” by putting up a fascistic propaganda poster which says: “Unauthorized Disclosure of Classified Information to the news media or other outlets is not whistleblowing-IT’S A CRIME.” Bit by bit, our freedoms are being further and further eroded.

Ironically, the Trump team’s use of the phrase “deep state” in their rhetoric is entirely applicable to the political order that they’re carrying out. The deep state is defined as “a clandestine network entrenched inside the government, bureaucracy, intelligence agencies, and other governmental entities.” Also called the “permanent state,” this situation where corporations, intelligence agencies, and the military control the country’s policies is unmistakably America’s system of government. And as the spectre of total war has returned, the deep state is taking more and more control.

We can fight back

Right now, the deep state is close to prosecuting Julian Assange, and thus to solidifying this paradigm of tyranny. The Trump administration has prepared charges against Assange, Ecuador’s president is being intimidated by the U.S. into extraditing Assange, and Democrats are supporting this effort from the Trump White House to arrest a journalist who’s guilty of nothing more than exposing the secrets of the powerful. If Assange is arrested, it will also give the government the precedent to prosecute any other person who publishes leaks.

But if we can free Assange, it will turn the power dynamic upside down. It’s time for everyone to organize protests in support of Assange, share information about Assange’s persecution online, or donate to the organization Justice4Assange. With enough people involved in these efforts, the White House will be intimidated into dropping its charges against Assange.

This would save a major part of press freedom, negate the power of the propaganda machine that’s tried to defame Assange, and show that the people are more powerful than their government. We’ve got to take action on this now though, because we’re running out of time.